What do you think of when you hear the word “boss?”

Based on things I’ve read lately, it seems we’ve demonized the word boss.

Usually, these posts include pictures of an overzealous white, middle-aged guy. While I’m sure there are plenty of bosses who fit this bill, it’s a stereotype that does more damage than good.

I noticed another trend a few years ago in which people were differentiating between managers and leaders.

I grew tired of the comparison as people said, “managers look after things, and leaders look after the people.”

I remember the comparison used in ways that implied leaders are better than managers.

This might be an unpopular thing to say, but we need to stop with these types of stereotypes and labels.

The terms “boss,” “manager,” and “leader” are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct roles in an organization.

An organization would struggle if all anyone did were provide inspiring leadership.

Likewise, an organization would struggle if all anyone did was boss or manage.

Let’s examine the difference between these three labels.


A boss is a person who has authority over others in the workplace. They are typically responsible for delegating tasks, setting deadlines, and monitoring employee performance.

Bosses often focus on achieving short-term goals and ensuring that tasks are completed on time.

While a boss may have some leadership qualities, they do not necessarily inspire or motivate their employees. Instead, they may rely on a hierarchy and a “do as I say” attitude to get things done.


A manager is someone responsible for overseeing a team or department within an organization. They are typically responsible for setting goals, developing plans, and allocating resources.

Managers are also responsible for supervising employees, providing feedback, and making personnel decisions.

Unlike a boss, short-term and long-term goals are a manager’s focus.

They are responsible for ensuring that the team is productive, efficient, and working towards achieving the company’s overall objectives.

While a manager may have some leadership qualities, their primary focus is managing the team and achieving results.


A leader is someone who inspires, motivates, and guides their team toward a common goal.

Leaders focus on creating a vision for the future and developing strategies to achieve it.

They inspire their team by setting an example, providing guidance and support, and creating a positive work environment.

Leaders are often focused on long-term goals, and they are not necessarily concerned with the team’s day-to-day operations.

Instead, they focus on creating a culture of innovation, creativity, and collaboration. Unlike a boss or a manager, a leader does not rely on authority or control to get things done.

Instead, they inspire their team to work towards a common goal and create a sense of shared purpose.

Key Differences

While there is some overlap between the roles of a boss, manager, and leader, there are also some key differences.

Here are some of the key differences between these roles:

Authority: A boss has formal authority over their employees, while a manager has formal and informal authority. A leader does not rely on formal authority to get things done.

Focus: A boss focuses on short-term goals, while a manager focuses on short-term and long-term goals. A leader is focused on long-term goals and creating a vision for the future.

Motivation: A boss may rely on control to motivate their employees, while a manager may rely on incentives or rewards. Leaders inspire and motivate their teams by creating a sense of purpose and shared vision.

Relationships: A boss may have a transactional relationship with their employees, while a manager may have a more collaborative relationship. A leader builds strong relationships with their team and fosters a culture of trust and respect.

Regardless of the label people might give you, look to balance your three roles.

Like it or not, sometimes the situation will call on you to be a boss, manager or leader.

Knowing the difference will make all the difference to you and your team.

You’ve got this.

Building Great Teams

Building Great Teams

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